European dissatisfaction prompts White & Case remuneration review

White & Case has launched an internal assessment of its partner compensation structure amid frustration from some European partners that the current scheme unfairly favours the US operation.

An international review committee comprising representatives from the firm’s US, Europe and Asia operations has been assessing ways of better remunerating partners.

It is understood that the committee has already reported to managing partner Duane Wall, who will shortly make a presentation to the firm’s management board.

A White & Case spokesperson insisted the review had no formal timetable, although it is believed a conclusion will be reached by February.

White & Case operates a 10-point modified lockstep, with the first four stages relatively automatic. However, some partners have expressed concern that the structure is failing to properly recognise contributions from across the firm’s international network.

One partner said: “There are clearly people who benefit from the system and want to keep the existing structure. There may not be any bold changes made.”

As revealed in this year’s The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report, profits per partner in London stood at £535,000, with global profits hovering
at £616,000, significantly behind other indigenous US firms in London, including Latham & Watkins, Shearman & Sterling, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Weil Gotshal & Manges.

A firm spokesperson said: “We’re reviewing compensation to see if change is necessary. It’s like a temperature check. What business wouldn’t look at the way it remunerates its staff?”

However, according to one partner: “The result could be dramatic. It will be very emotional for the firm, whichever way the review goes.”